Campus

GS valedictory Class Day speech plagiarized? (UPDATE: Yeah, it definitely was)

Behold, the power of the Internet! This morning, GS valedictorian Brian Corman was accused of lifting part of his Class Day speech from comedian Patton Oswalt's "Physics for Poets" routine. Oswalt has taken to his Twitter in reaction to online tips.

Video of GS Class Day has been made private on Columbia's YouTube page, but Corman's speech is still available via webcast on the Commencement 2010 page. (Download his speech for RealPlayer here and Windows Media player here.) Corman's speech begins at the 42:27 mark and the anecdote begins at 47:42.

Update, 1:46 p.m.: The University has put the GS Class Day video back on its YouTube channel with an apology (reprinted below) as an annotation to the video.

Update, 3:18 p.m.: Patton Oswalt's latest tweet: "How do I add a pic to a Tweet? Columbia issued an apology and misspelled my name." Oops.

Update, 3:46 p.m.: Oswalt updated his website after Corman apologized to him, saying that he "flat-out admitted his thievery, his stupidity. Owned it all. Good man." But the comedian didn't let him off that easy, writing, "Still makes me wonder what he might have done to become valedictorian—I mean, if he’s willing to steal material for something as inconsequential as a speech, how rubbery did his boundaries become when his GPA and future career were on the line? Oh well."

Update, 5:00 p.m.: GS Dean Peter Awn's separate statement, similar to the YouTube annotation:

It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian’s remarks at this year’s School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt.  As an institution of higher learning that places a core value on respect for the works of others, we were surprised and disappointed to have learned of this matter today. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone or permit the use of someone else’s work without proper citation. The student speaker has appropriately issued an apology to his classmates and to Mr. Oswalt for failing to provide such attribution.

Peter J. Awn
Dean
Columbia University School of General Studies

Not clear whether this means the University has spoken with Corman, or how else (or what else) they know about his apology. Keep checking back for further updates.

Update, 5:40 p.m.: According to the University, the video was taken down temporarily from YouTube (as noted by Oswalt) to post the statement that now appears with it. In addition, the University cannot comment on any potential disciplinary actions facing Corman due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act restrictions on the disclosure of personal information. The apology message from Corman to Oswalt, though, was a private correspondence between the two that did not involve the University.

Still no word from Corman himself, but keep checking back.

Videos of Corman's speech and Oswalt's set after the jump.

Corman's speech begins at 34:33 and the portion from Oswalt begins at 38:36:

Transcription of the annotation from the University on the video:

It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian's address at this year's Columbia University School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. Until today we were unaware of this conflict, and as an institution of higher learning that upholds the highest standards of respect for the works of others, we are deeply distressed that this has occurred. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone the use of someone else's work without proper attribution. Mr. Corman has issued an apology to Patton Oswald [sic]. -- School of General Studies, May 25, 2010

Parts one and two of Oswalt's set:

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tanstaafl posted on

You can be sure that GS professors look the other way when cheating occurs.

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Vivi posted on

What GS profs are you talking about ???? We (all undergrad schools) have the same professors well besides Barnard. You should inform yourself before you make silly statements like that lol

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sistahipsta posted on

I wasn't aware there were GS specific professors. Seems to me there are always overaged trolls in my exclusive CC classes.

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JD posted on

Patton Os...who?

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Stunning posted on

Everyone in the Physics department knows there's no such course, all of his friends know he never took such a class, and he had to know that someone in the audience would recognize the routine.

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Anonymous posted on

nice try

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Lester Smithson posted on

US Berkeley. Poor kid. Now John Yoo is going to have commit him to extraordinary rendition, torture him, hold him at a black site without due process, and there's nothing he can do about it.

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Pericles posted on

This kid is the Milton Berle of Class Day valedictorian speeches. But look at this way, first day out of the gate and he's front page HuffPost...

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hahahaha posted on

wow fail, epic epic fail

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OSWALD posted on

LOLOLOLOL this gets worse and worse

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this is embarrassing posted on

in so many ways

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whoops posted on

1) He's the valedictorian.

2) Any comedian will own someone for doing this in so many hilarious ways.

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3) posted on

GS looks totally inept. I feel bad for all the rest of their graduating class.

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idiot posted on

you just ruined your life. well done.

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word on the street posted on

is that this kid is not smart.

which leaves one wondering how he was valedictorian.

which leaves one wondering about gs.

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eicos posted on

Nice to see snide comments about GS, but look around your own school. You don't have to be super smart to be the valedictorian. You have to have above-average intelligence, and be willing and able to work REALLY hard.

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Anonymous posted on

pffff

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oswalt is just completely owning posted on

if you're gonna plagiarize, don't use a comedian. use someone who by demanding honesty will look like a hypocrite.

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or just don't plagiarize posted on

glad to know columbia taught us well!

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ok but like let's be fair posted on

this was clearly just one kid

etc etc etc cliche cliche cliche

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yeah way to give gs a bad name posted on

...oh wait...

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GS '08 posted on

I, for one, am horrified by what this kid did -- and yeah, it makes me question what else he may have done to get on that stage in the first place. As a GS alumnae, I'm embarrassed and furious -- but mostly I'm sick to death of having to defend my credentials every time some idiot GSer does something stupid. Do YOU have to defend the quality of your credentials whenever a CC grad does something ridiculous? Would there be enough hours in the day? Really, get it together and realize that people come to GS for all kinds of reasons and have the same goods you do, or we wouldn't be able to thoroughly kick your ass in the classroom. This whole "does GS deserve to be here" thing has been played to death and rings hollow. I know that...

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cc'12 posted on

assuming that all GS kids "thoroughly kick our asses in the classroom" is just as asinine an assumption as the one that GS kids don't belong here.

EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT OK

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Anonymous posted on

prove it

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think before you act posted on

it's a simple rule to live by. you embarrassed your school and yourself over something as silly as a speech. not worth it.

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CC '13 posted on

Saying that this is simply an embarrassment to GS is immensely reductive. GS *is* a part of the Columbia community whether one likes it or not, which makes this debacle an embarrassment to the Columbia community as a whole.

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Ed Poor posted on

Thanks for bolstering my point. Others had tried to change the subject with personal attacks.

The point is that stealing someone else's thoughts without credit is plagiarism and is forbidden by academic rules. There is no excuse for it, and it should be excused or dismissed. It doesn't matter who discovers and announces a crime: theft is still theft.

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No one is talking... posted on

about whether he's still accepted to UC Berkeley Law...which I hope he's not, considering the serious ethical ridiculousness on display here.

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doesn't that sound a bit rash? posted on

yes, what he did was ethically questionable, but to rescind his admission would be a BIG move for UCBerkeley. i just don't see them doing it.

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Loser! posted on

At the very least, wasn't he concerned about being called out by the "head of the physics department" (whom he makes reference to in his sketch)?

What a douche.

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No He Didunt posted on

UC Berkeley Law? That stalwart high moralist John Yoo will set him straight.

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Vivi posted on

I actually know Brian from a couple of Poli classes we took together and let me tell you this he is absolutely the biggest douche there is, I mean he is/was a male ballerina for Christ sake lol despite this though he was a very hard working/smart student who to my knowledge was always on top of his game and an asset in the classroom.

As a fellow GS graduate and standup comedy aficionado I recognized the joke and didn't think of it as being such a big deal. I also dont understand why Oswalt is being such a pussy about all of this. He himself does this all the time with old bits of Eddie Murphy or Pryor of course he changes it up a bit more and does not take it word for word like Brian did in this case. However this is not a big deal as...

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GS Senior posted on

Can we get a senior profile on this guy?

It could be a really good one! (Has he cut out of town already? Hiding in some undisclosed place away from the prying eyes of the press?)

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seminary senior posted on

Why are we so surprised? We know of folks who cheat their way through three years of seminary, get the jobs, and head out on their "careers" -- it's a slippery slope these days isn't it ... the thinking is something like, "If they set it up this way (unproctored or take-home closed book exams), then they're asking for it or don't care -- so why not!" Cheating has become another kind of gaming -- the 'douche' (to use your language) is actually the poor professor who just happened to still believe in honor!

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cc alumn posted on

GS '08, there is no such thing as "a GS alumnae"

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yeah posted on

and there's also no such thing as a "cc alumn."

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anon posted on

i'm in gs, and i met this guy during orientation last spring where he was some sort of student ambassador. he was (and probably still is) a complete douche. this doesn't surprise me at all.

honestly, he needs to have his entire academic history at columbia under review. it isn't fair to those of us who actually work hard and earn our high marks. i also hope the offer to whichever graduate program he was accepted to will be rescinded.

seriously, it makes u wonder if he plagiarized anything else...

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wow posted on

wow. thats word for word, and not just a few words. Wow. Just wow.

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continuing ed posted on

What is a "General Studies School", is it a Continuing Education Program for older people out of college for a while who want to take courses like Accounting, or Painting, or Physics for Poets? And Columbia gives you a diploma with their name on it for that? How can I sign up? On the internet?

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Anonymous posted on

my thoughts exactly

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anonymous posted on

You can actually sign up on the Internet since there's an online application. The SAT scores, transcripts etc do need to be send by regular mail. The main reason GS has a higher acceptance rate compared to the College or Fu is that they don't have enough money on their endowment to give need blind financial aid to people. The pool of people who will consider going to an expensive university for free is much bigger than the pool of people who'll be willing to pay almost a high % out of their own pockets. Once (and if) they get their endowment up the admission rate will drop. But for some very bright and talented people including Columbia College alumni who'll want to do a second major or do premed classes it's the only option. I don't know why some people in the College get so distressed about GS is it because they didn't get into Harvard and and there's a hidden inferiority complex? Slandering GS every time you can seems a little to me like spitting vertically into the sky.

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anonymous posted on

And for the GS people who slander other GS students on anonymous internet forums apparently trying to align themselves and therefore win some sympathy from the most extremist CC haters, well that's pathetic. It's the same as somebody from CC slandering GS just because they wish they were Harvard.

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Anonymous posted on

With your lack of knowledge on how to use basic punctuation, I'd doubt they'd let you in.

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General Studies Is meant for posted on

GS is meant for students who have decided to come back to school and earn their undergrad degree after, presumably, going out into the working world after high school instead of going right to college (or earned and Associates and went to work after or many combinations all involving not going to college after high school).

I am a GS student and am ashamed to read these assumptions that one person represents us all. Every person in GS that I have met works very hard to make sure they can support their families, pay their mortgage/rent, keep a job, and take classes to earn their degree. He messed up and he will have to suffer the consequences.

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woah posted on

this is so embarrassing. I feel bad for his family

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anonymous posted on

He's not a professional comedian or being paid for telling the joke. I think people are blowing this out of proportion "rescind his admission to Law School."

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denise posted on

Plagiarism is plagiarism is plagiarism.

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Was posted on

the joke even worth stealing? Or fretting over? It seemed pretty bland to me, and I like star trek.

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anonymous posted on

I hope the people who are demanding his admission to law school to be rescinded over this silly joke never get into law school themselves. They are potentially next generation's Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

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